…made for three!
“Mummy, it isn’t good for a young boy to be bored”. I am sorry if the entertainment isn’t up to scratch; bring on the cabaret (cavalry?)
Friday morning Hazel, dogs, Joni on trike, Danny in pushchair go for a walk. Joni on trike doesn’t see the step, front wheel stops dead, classic base over apex, spread-eagled face-down in a child-trike tangle. I let go of both pushchair and dog in order to unravel Joni. Dog finding herself unexpectedly free, joyfully sets off in pursuit of approaching van, knocking over pushchair on the way. Score yelling children two. Picked everyone up, dusted them off, no major injuries, even Joni’s bleeding chin isn’t going to warrant stitches. Carry on our walk. Arrive home half an hour later to discover that I probably lost the house-keys at the point where the pushchair fell over. Retrace steps. No keys. Redo entire walk with a toothcomb. Still no keys. Having already been broken into twice, decide that there is at least some possibility that someone knows whose keys they have picked up (the English population of San Francisco scoring at one family). My patient and uncomplaining (sorry honey) husband therefore spends the morning changing three locks.
Friday 2pm, the phone rings, I ignore it, twice. Followed up by a loud banging on the front door. Someone looking for me. He has advertised his car for sale on the internet, and the person who wants to buy it apparently works in London and only speaks English, so can I come and help him with the phone-call (like I say, everyone knows where the English family live). So off I go. The potential buyer isn’t English, he is Nigerian and his accent over a poor telephone line is barely comprehensible. And I’m not convinced he’s a genuine buyer either. I speak to him on the phone, get him to agree to send an email, and warn the people at this end to tread carefully.
Friday 4pm, sling some things into a bag, sling same into car, add a couple of kids for good measure and we’re off to Cordoba till tomorrow. Wedding this evening (Argentinean weddings are usually Friday or Saturday evenings, start at 9pm and go on until 5 or 6 the next morning). Good to see some of the church folk from Cordoba, many expressed surprise that they didn’t know we’d doubled our child quota since they last saw us. Bush telegraph apparently in need of some maintenance. Wedding weathered; kids loved it, Martin went off to kip in the car for a couple of hours. We disappear off to the house of friends for a few zzz’s.
Saturday morning, the plan to have a leisurely breakfast followed by a meander back to San Fran is hijacked as we find ourselves in the middle of a situation. This isn’t my story to tell, and particularly not as it is still ongoing. We spent all day seeking resolution, but by 7 in the evening were forced to conclude that even a temporary patch was beyond our means. If anyone out there has faith to pray for un-named people in an un-defined crisis, then it would be most welcome; and if you hear any useful answers, then do pass them along. This one is going to run for a while yet, and is probably the reason why we needed to be in Cordoba this weekend, although I had no inking of that when I wrote “wedding” in the diary for Friday evening.
Saturday 7pm, we begin our four-hour battle home against an electrical storm, not exactly the kind of entertainment I had in mind (me at the wheel and all), but we made it home in one piece, courtesy of a couple of large lorries which I hid behind for the most ferocious bits.
Saturday 11pm, arrive home to find the house stinks of gas. Close inspection reveals probable leak in the cooker. Switch off gas at source, open doors and windows. T’was on a monday morning… note to self to phone him.
My dear sweet little boy with the old man’s vocabulary, I do understand your sentiment that the entertainment this weekend has lacked a certain something, but I don’t think boring would be the adjective I’m looking for.
I’m gathering prayer support for a little boy; Luciano, “Luchi” is two weeks younger than Joni, and is the son of my fellow Scout leader. While we were away in the UK I received an email to say that a tumour had been discovered in Luchi’s eye and that he was going to be operated on. We prayed for Luchi in several of the churches and groups that we visited, so for some of you this is an update. Luchi has now had the eye completely removed and will need a prosthesis eventually. While the operation was performed for free under the public health service, the prosthetic eye isn’t included, so the family will have to buy that. Last weekend we held a “venta de pollos” (sale of chickens – barbecued) to help raise money which hopefully has given them a good head-start. However, this week my friend received a phone call on Wednesday saying “we’ve done the biopsy and we’re going to need to start chemo right now so come on in…” which would be more than enough to put anyone off their breakfast, let alone a young mother of a four year old. There’s some things that just shouldn’t happen to little kids. So they’re away over in Cordoba having chemo, I don’t yet know how it is going, but they definitely need as much prayer as they can get, not least because the public health system is largely on strike at the moment; there are presidential elections this month so it is silly season for civil unrest by anyone who wants to make the president look bad.
Pray for Luchi, it was his 4th birthday last week. Pray for his mum, Cintia, this is probably harder for her than it is for him. And if you don’t believe in God pray anyway.
– Mummy, you didn’t take the llama out of my room…
– The llama?? (thinks… I know a lot of kids keep a snail or two in a box under the bed but I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed a llama…)
– Yes the llama, look…
– Oh you mean the alarm clock
– That’s right, the llama.
– Hi Joni how was jardin (nursery)?
– I drawed you mummy, and I drawed Daddy and me and Danny, but I didn’t drawed any legs.
(Saturday morning) – Mummy, what shall we do?
– I don’t know, I don’t have any big plans.
– No, I don’t have any big plans either, only little ones.
This week we’ve suddenly crashed headlong and without warning into the “why?” phase; why are we going to get Seba? why does he have to go to school? why is he a big boy? why is he nine? why is that boy riding his bike? why is it getting dark? more or less ad nauseum until he falls asleep still mouthing one final interrogative. I’m glad he has an inquiring mind, I want him to be interested in life the universe and everything, and I hate the way that even teachers here answer a child’s “why…?” with “because it does…” and I’ve promised myself I’m never going to do it… but my goodness after a week or two of this it’s going to be a close run thing.
There is a great Les Luthiers song/sketch about a child’s infernal questioning, we performed a version of it at a Scout leaders event a few months ago, and this YouTube version is the Les Luthiers original. It works better in Spanish, apart from the fact that I haven’t got the energy to translate it all (I used it all up answering why? questions) but I’ll put the lyrics underneath.
LA GALLINA DIJO EUREKA
La Gallina estaba clueca,puso un huevo y dijo "Eureka" la Gallina, cocoroco, la Gallina dijo "Eureka" se quedo tan sorprendida, que olvido hacer la com.... - Nene, ?que? - ?Que por que la gallinita dijo Eureka? Si vos dijiste recien que la gallinita dijo Eureka, que cocoroco, co... ?por que, por que? Explicame, dale, dale, explicame... - La gallinita dijo Eureka porque estaba muy contenta - ?Si? - Claro. - ?Estaba contenta? - Muy contenta - ?Muy contenta? - Si - Estaba chocha, bueno, entonces... ya esta. Se quedo tan sorprendida que olvido hacer la comida, la Gallina, cocoroco la Gallina distraida, y... - Y ?Por qui estaba muy contenta? ?Por que? ?Por que? !!!?Por que?!!! - La gallinita estaba muy contenta, querido, porque iba a tener un hijito - Uh... - Y eso la hacia muy feliz - ?Si? - Claro, - Uh - Es tan hermoso poner un hijo... - Mm - Tener un huevo... - Ah - Tener un hijo Y se fue la muy coqueta a pasear en bicicleta la Gallina cocoroco... -Y ?Por que es tan hermoso tener un hijo? Eh... - Porque los hijos son la alegria de la vida, querido, con sus risas, con sus juegos, con sus preguntas, cada hijo es como una rosa que florece. - Una rosa que florece... - Si - !Que lindo! - ?Te gusta el cantito? - Si - Entonces callate Hizo pruebas la muy lista, igualito que una artista - Y ?Por que la rosa florece? Eh... - Porque son plantitas de la familia de las Rosaceas, con estambres y pistilo bien insertos en el tallo, y asi como las plantitas florecen, las personas necesitan realizarse. - Bueno, ya esta. - Dejame vivir Dando saltos por la plaza se volvio para su ... - Y ?Por que las personas necesitan realizarse? ?Por que? ?Por que? - Porque realizarse es trascender, yendo mas alla de los hechos, hasta lograr cierto tipo de equilibrio, cierto tipo de equilibrio, como por ejemplo, un arbol. - Ah, como un arbo'l - A'rbol - Un arbo'l - Si, como un arbo'l - Un arbol - Como un avioncito que vuela - Ah... Un avioncito que vola.... - Si, !que bola! - Un barquito que flota - Ah.... un barquito que flota... ta bien Y para ... - Y ?por que el barquito flota? - Porque todo cuerpo que se sumerge en un liquido, experimenta un empuje de abajo hacia arriba, igual al peso del volumen del liquido desalojado. Es el principio de Arquimedes. - ?Quien? - Arqumiedes, ese que cuando lo descubrio dijo !Eureka! - Ja, ja, ja, !como la gallinita! - Si, como la gallinita dijo Eureka - Y ?por que la gallinita dijo Eureka? - No nene, no, las gallinitas, no hablan. - !Bua!
Government-run banks in Argentina are a breed of institution apart. Take a good deep breath before you go in, because you never know when you will encounter fresh air again. A variety of snake-like queues slowly writhe towards distant counters, and the space between same is usually occupied by lost souls trying to ascertain which snake might best fit their purpose. Personally I find the security guard is the best source of information despite (or possibly because?) being employed by a third party contractor rather than the bank itself. It represents progress therefore that our San Francisco branch of the national bank has replaced their standing in line with a system of numbered tickets, cheese counter style, and a waiting area with seats and a TV. Hence I arrived this morning and took number 45. A glance at the screen showed that they were currently serving number 13, so I stood and watched to make sure that the screen was definitely working, and thus decided that I had time to go and do the rest of my shopping first. Arriving back half an hour later, we were now up to number 40. Result. So I sat and waited, till the lady next to me said, “You’ve got a baby they’ll serve you first if you go up”. I always find that one something of a dilemma… while I might not inspect the dentistry of a gift horse if it’s offered, I’m not totally comfortable with the idea of taking the initiative to push past a room full of people who have been patiently queuing since breakfast time, especially since babe was quite happy sitting in his little rucksack. As it happened my dithering was cut short since the cashier noticed and sure enough called me up ahead of the queue. It was only at that point that I realised they weren’t serving number 40; it was 940, and I didn’t have number 45; I had 045, not five people from the front but a hundred and five. And thus the moral of the story is this; anyone planning on doing any banking in Argentina would be well advised first to borrow a baby.
On the way home, I called in at my favourite pasta shop to pick up a box of raviolis (real ones, not tinned by Heinz!) for lunch. “They’re not quite ready, so if you can wait a few minutes…”. In front of me a guy pummels a mound of dough, while his wife behind the counter fields a succession of other small-business employees delivering ingredients; a ham, a box of spinach. Food doesn’t come much more fresh and local than this; now that´s my kind of waiting.
Clearly I need a round tuit. As the observant reader will have
observed er noticed, normal service is yet to be resumed; apologies also if your mail is one of the many in my inbox, it will receive a response although I´m not sure I could be optimistic enough to set a date.
We enjoyed an action-packed UK summer. (The UK summer is a much maligned institution. Stop moaning about it, put a cardie on, and feel grateful that you can go outside every day without waiting for the temperature to dip below 40 degrees.)
Six weeks passed very quickly between family time with the cousins…
fun with friends…
harvesting nature’s abundance from the hedgerows… (and making jam with the fruit that made it home)
wrestling with giant crocodiles…
and testing the limits of science.
And my goodness don’t you live in a beautiful part of the world!
It’s green, it’s quiet, it’s understated, but it is also well-managed, largely litter-free, bordered by hedges laden with a bounty of free food, networked with footpaths maintained by the landowner for access by the public, who may roam unhampered by fear of poisoning by toxic chemicals sprayed into every last nook and cranny. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and we made the most of having it on our doorstep for six weeks.
Joni had his 4th birthday towards the end of the trip;
1100 hours: “Mummy, I still four” “That´s right, you´re going to be four all year now”. “That´s a lot of four”.
We celebrated by taking a picnic to Bekonscot and spending the afternoon chasing miniature gauge trains around the model village;
And now we’ve been back in Argentina a week and the UK is definitely nine thousand miles away. I’d let myself off emailing and blog-writing from the UK in the end since we were busy, there were lots of us in the house, computer time was at a premium, there were other things to do… etc. Except that now we’re back here, it becomes apparent that baby Daniel has stopped being a tiny new-born (OK I took a while to catch on) and at four months he no longer sleeps in the day-time (nor much at night either but that’s another story), and nor is he willing to talk to himself while I busy myself on the computer. I’m beginning to see the attraction of the likes of Facebook and Twitter for those whose attention span only allows an idea to be sustained for a couple of lines. Meanwhile, I am optimistic that normal service shall one day be resumed, although this may depend on me finding a remote control, be that for computer or baby.